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In any abusive relationship, it's not unusual for the victim to suffer fear and anxiety over the relationship, what the narcissist is doing, and what they could have done differently. If she did fall asleep, she often woke up in the middle of the night, her mind racing, her heart pounding. I'm tired all the time, she told me. And I never used to have trouble sleeping, no matter how worried I was about money, or work, or the kids, or whatever. Now I'm really not worried about anything--and yet I can't sleep! It doesn't seem fair. Chantelle was a classic example of how hormonal imbalance can create a difficult perimenopause, even when life circumstances are very good and life stress is relatively under control. I spent years working too hard, Chantelle admitted to me, but I've finally figured out how to take time for myself and enjoy life. But with this weight, and the not sleeping, and the no sex, and the hot flashes, I can't enjoy my life and everything I was looking forward to. When I asked about her diet, Chantelle shook her head. I don't understand why I can't lose weight, she told me. See how good it feels to laugh and be happy. See how that feels. Imagine what it looks like. Do this for as much time as you feel comfortable. The HA breath is a great, quick exercise to do before meals. Inhale through the nose, tilt your head back, pause. through the mouth. Generosity is giving, yielding, unconditional love, an outstretched hand, open mind, open heart. Every act of generosity slowly weakens the factor of greed.

Just remember that generosity is not about giving things so that you are thanked and appreciated. The victim might start believing that they are the cause of the trouble and even suffer from mood swings and a deterioration of their self-image and self-esteem, all the while being unable to break away. These are the hallmarks of narcissistic abuse syndrome, which is a type of post-traumatic stress disorder. Intense Loneliness. Sure, the narcissist is there with you, in the house, in your bed, but you still feel utterly alone. They are with you, and yet you feel abandoned and completely disconnected. They don't seem interested in spending time with you, learning about you, or even making you feel safe. When you interact with the narcissist, you feel frustrated, as if they don't hear you, and they simply want to use you as a tool. The narcissist will go out of their way to make you feel like a loser, no matter how successful you've been, how intelligent, kind, creative, even good-looking you are. It doesn't matter what it is, the narcissist will pointedly pay no attention, and if they do, their response is a mockery. It's a very effective tactic, and victims are sometimes too broken to carry on and lose everything from families to careers to finances and homes. I eat so healthy! For breakfast I have a granola bar. For lunch I just have a plain salad--not even any dressing! For dinner, maybe some whole-wheat pasta or some brown rice and veggies. But I can't lose any weight at all! I asked Chantelle what she did for exercise, and again she shook her head. I go to the gym for a spin class, she told me, and I'm taking yoga, and I recently added some weight training. Wouldn't you think with all of that I'd be losing weight? But instead, I'm gaining.

And not muscle, either, but fat--right around my belly. It is done selflessly and with no expectations of a return or thanks. For example, practicing generosity in human relationships means trusting another person and allowing him or her to enjoy space and freedom and dignity. Try this twice a day, or as needed during stressful times. It is also called Sitali Pranayama, which translates to cooling breath. Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor, shoulders relaxed, spine erect. Observe your breath with eyes closed. Slightly lower the chin. Then curl your tongue and extend it through your lips. Bring air in through this central passageway. As you inhale gently, slowly lift your chin toward the ceiling, lifting only as far as the neck is comfortable. You find that your relationship with the narcissist completely consumes your world from the barrage of calls, texts, and emails, the displays of excessive jealousy, the wedge placed between you and your friends and family, even demands placed on how you dress, style your hair or eat. As if that's not bad enough, you find yourself in a constant state of anxiety, fearful of accidentally setting off the narcissist. This leads to constant second-guessing, but you never really know what will do it, and that leaves you drowning in feelings of hopelessness. You no longer stand up for what you believe in. Instead, you've stopped doing things that made you feel good, like donating time and money to worthy causes, or you've started to tolerate or even take part in activities that would have once been deal-breakers for you. Why? Because this is what your narcissist wants, and you want to show them how much you love them, hoping that it will turn them around and they'll treat you the way they did when you were first together. If you have to turn away from things and people who are important to you in order to prove your love to someone, that's abusive. Like bullying, name-calling isn't confined to the schoolyard.

Narcissists use it to demean you and undermine your self-esteem. How can this be? I told Chantelle that she seemed to be coping with several different types of hormonal imbalance but that I needed to test her before I could be sure. Indeed, Chantelle's tests revealed hormonal imbalance in a number of areas: her stress hormones, insulin levels, and sex hormones. Until she rebalanced her hormones, she would find it nearly impossible to lose weight, no matter how little she ate or how much she exercised. Fortunately, now that we understood the problem, I could help Chantelle achieve hormonal balance. She actually needed to eat both differently and more. Unlike Lara, whom we met in article 2, Chantelle's hormonal imbalance seemed to have less to do with life stress and more to do with hormonal shifts that often accompany the transition from fertility to menopause. In a way, this was good news because it meant that when I offered Chantelle the herbal remedies I usually prescribe for perimenopause--a combination of black cohosh, red clover, wild yam, and chasteberry--she would likely find that many of her symptoms cleared up right away. If you're eating a hormone-friendly diet, getting good sleep and exercise, and getting the psychological support you need to cope with stress, you may be able to sail through perimenopause. Even then, however, you may need herbal, nutritional, or hormonal support. At the end of the inhale, bring your tongue in and close your lips. Hold for as long as comfortable. Then exhale gently through your nose as you lower your chin back to a neutral position. It is like drinking a glass of cool lemonade on a hot day and feeling your body becoming cool inside. When you breathe in, the air enters your body and calms all the cells of your body. Sit or stand and watch your breath for several minutes. Make sure there is a balanced rhythm to your breathing. Then put your hands over your abdomen and feel the energy ball behind your navel expanding as you inhale and contracting as you exhale. Let the energy ball spread into your solar plexus, just below your sternum.

As you exhale, feel the solar plexus and navel areas contracting. It will erupt during fights, but the narcissist will other times as well and claim they were only joking or that you are being too sensitive. These names are used intentionally to hurt you and undermine your confidence. There is no excuse for this sort of abuse under any circumstances, regardless of the excuses they use to try to cover themselves. Here, the narcissist takes you through repeated cycles of pain and relief. The pain inflicted could be through insult and intimidation, the silent treatment, even some level of violence, while the relief gives you a glimpse of the romantic that first swept you off your feet. This is a particularly cruel form of punishment in that it keeps you off-balance and anxious, never knowing which version of your narcissist you'll be dealing with and puts you through hell just to get a little glimmer of happiness. It is also the main feature of trauma bonding, which we will discuss next. The term simply means that two people have bonded due to some kind adversity. It can happen in a positive way, such as friends sharing a traumatic experience like the death of a loved one and growing closer as a result. With a narcissist, however, the bonding develops through the constant cycle of ruin and rescue, the abuse and the making up, cementing the relationship and emotionally chaining the abused with their abuser and altering the way they perceive intimacy. And if your hormones are already imbalanced, perimenopause can be the extra challenge that produces a host of new problems, including Chantelle's symptoms of exhaustion, mental fog, memory problems, loss of sex drive, and weight gain. However, age wasn't the only issue. Chantelle's diet was also stressing her system with too many carbs and not enough protein or healthy fats. A granola bar might sound healthy but it's really little more than a candy bar--a very sweet, starchy snack that metabolizes into sugar very quickly. By starting her day with something sweet, Chantelle was cuing her metabolism to begin a pattern of blood sugar spikes and crashes that imbalanced both her insulin levels and her stress hormones. Chantelle's lunchtime salad might have been a healthy choice if she had added some lean, high-quality protein (chicken, beef, fish, nuts, seeds, or goat cheese) and some healthy fats (olive oil, flaxseed oil, or walnut oil). But a plain salad with no dressing is actually not nourishing enough by itself. We need to include protein and fats in every meal or snack to maintain a healthy blood-sugar level. Her evening meal posed the same problem.